STONEMASON Thomas Whitehead from Weymouth has won a national contest for the second time.

The Albion Stone plc employee claimed gold at the annual SkillBuild championships in Preston.

Thomas, who lives in Weymouth, won the event in 2010 at his first attempt but last year came third.

He said: “I put too much pressure on myself last year.

“I knew this year was my last competition because I finished my apprenticeship in the summer and I just went for it with the view that I had nothing to lose.”

Thomas works for Albion Stone Plc on Portland.

He first studied for an arts foundation diploma at Filton College in Bristol where his lecturer suggested stonemasonry as a career.

He said: “Having completed my apprenticeship I’ve now gone full-time with Albion Stone.

“I’m enjoying living in Weymouth and not worrying about homework.

“My girlfriend Amy is taking a degree course in stone conservation so that’s a mutual interest.”

Thomas has also achieved success in previous SkillBuild contests and the Stone Federation GB’s UK Masonry Skills Challenge.

Hes has a hat-trick of successes in the UK Masonry Skills challenges to his name.

The runner-up in this year’s SkillBuild competition was Edward Shaw, who works for Chichester-based Cathedral Works Organisation Ltd.

In third place was Darek Malecki, who works for Wells Cathedral Stonemasons Ltd in Cheddar. All three studied at Weymouth College.

SkillBuild is a multi-trade competition for construction trainees and apprentices.

It is organised by the Construction Industry Training Board.

The event is divided into 10 building craft sections, including bricklaying, joinery and plastering.

Stone Federation chief executive Jane Buxey said: “Once again companies belonging to Stone Federation have played their part, alongside some excellent colleges, to ensure that craftsmanship and expertise in the ancient skill of stonemasonry remains alive and well.”